Small agency coalition unveils new internship program for aspiring Black creatives
A group of 10 independent creative agencies have lined up behind a unique internship program that gives up-and-coming Black creatives a chance to break into the industry with hands-on advertising experience.
Dubbed BLAC—“Building Leaders and Creators”—the immersive, paid eight-week program is sponsored by Procter & Gamble and has a simple mission: to offer diverse, up-and-coming talent the chance to get a foothold in advertising, which has historically been the realm of white creatives.
BLAC features an all-star roster of small agencies from around the country: Walrus and Noble People in New York; Planet Propaganda and O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul in the Midwest; Barrett San Francisco and DNA on the West Coast; and Cornett, Humanaut, Preacher and St. John in the South.
“Every link in the creative and media supply chain should be 40% multicultural, equal to the U.S. population, and we have a long way to go,” says P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. “Efforts to identify, nurture and grow talent starting with interns is an important contributor towards this outcome.”
The program’s framework is based on Camp OKRP, another internship program created by Chicago’s O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul in 2017. Candidates will get real-world creative experience working on brand assignments from P&G’s vast portfolio, as well as learning other critical skills from salary negotiation to pitching an idea.
“Our interns will be able to build personal relationships with each other and within their agencies that will help them advance their careers, provide role models and a network of support,” says Sue Gillan, one of the program’s two managing directors.
BLAC is designed with equity in mind, as aspiring creatives need no formal agency experience or marketing education to take part. “We know talent comes from everywhere, and everyone is welcome to apply, regardless of background or age. Our camp week is designed to help everyone get up to speed and ready to jump into the workflow of an agency for the rest of the internship,” BLAC says on its website.
While the inaugural 2021 program is set to occur remotely, all interns are nonetheless asked to apply to the agency that’s closest to their home—a move that BLAC says will ensure a fair livable wage based on participants’ regions and will make the post-internship hiring process easier. Each agency will set its own pay rate.
Depending on their size, agencies will bring on two to four interns each this summer, but BLAC hopes to expand that number annually. By 2026, it has set a goal of having 200 participating agencies each year, which would yield a total of around 2,000 interns—roughly one-quarter of whom are expected to “graduate” into a job with their summer employer.
Young creatives interested in the summer internship program have until Feb. 26 to apply and can find additional information about it via BLAC’s website.